I've been doing a series about personal change and how difficult it can be. In July, I wrote about the negative power of being offended and addressed it as the number one hindrance to being transformed by the power of God. The primary focus was emotional hurts, wounded pride, and fragile egos. (Click here to read Part 1 – Is Change Really Possible?)
This month, I'm going to focus on God's plan to transform us. First we'll look into the Word and then talk about some practical applications.
WHAT IS GOD'S PLAN TO TRANSFORM US?
We are transformed by the renewing of our minds! << Click to Tweet
Romans 12:2 says: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God
Ephesians 4:22-24 says: You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Many theologians, pastors, and counselors have exhorted people for decades and probably centuries that change comes from exchanging our thoughts, worries, fears, irritations, complaints, etc., for Truth, which is the living and active Word of God. To quote a favorite speaker and author, Graham Cooke, "If all of your thinking has gotten you to where you are today and you don't like it, maybe it's time to have another thought!"
Lest we think more highly of our thought life than we should, God admonishes us in Isaiah:
For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
A RENEWED MIND VS. AN UN-RENEWED MIND
A transformed or renewed mind is the result of a training, to learn how God thinks about specific things and practicing to run our thoughts though the filter of the Word of God. An un-renewed mind reacts to life's setbacks, disappointments, and curve balls, "Wait a minute, you can't treat me this way...who do you think you are?” “That's not fair,” etc. A trained or renewed mind doesn't react but rather responds after pressing the pause button, praying, and running opinions and feelings about what just happened thorough a Divine thought strainer of sorts.
WHAT DOES A RENEWED MIND SOUND LIKE?
Let's look at a common inconvenience we've all faced in our lives: a flat tire. It's never convenient or welcome, that's a given! An un-renewed mind may begin immediately to catastrophize. "This is awful.” “This kind of stuff always happens to me.” “This should NOT have happened. Thanks, God!" (Ah yes, since the Garden when anything goes wrong we blame God. Ever stop and think where that accusation may be coming from?)
Meanwhile, a transformed or renewed mind thinks a little differently. It will still feel frustrated and upset, concerned about the inconvenience. But a renewed mind is an elevated mind, a mind that thinks from Heaven to earth and starts to get into the Presence anyway it knows how. We're all on the learning curve with this so if you kick the tires and curse your spouse for leaving the car this way you still haven't failed. No, God is the God of second chances and as soon as you regain your cool and start to praise Him (not FOR the flat tire) and focus upwards, miracles of mood shifting do seem to occur. A transformed mind gets into the groove pretty quickly: "I'll be alright no matter what! This isn't the end of the world!"
In short you can tell if you or someone is walking in their transformed mind by how they respond and react to circumstances, setbacks, disappointments, and life's crazy curve balls.
A transformed mind is the result of a combination of two ingredients:
- First and most importantly, the Holy Spirit touches our minds and empowers us to think from a Heavenly perspective. So we have God's thoughts and direction to guide us. A simple but daily prayer to ask God for a breakthrough of His Strength, Grace, Power, and Favor on our thought life is a good beginning to getting the Holy Spirit's thoughts in exchange for ours.
- Secondly, we need to practice focusing on God's ways and will by studying His Word and being able to insert His thoughts about our circumstances into our thoughts. What do I need to be thinking in the midst of the flat tire that lines up with God's Word? Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Or Romans 8:31, 35, 37, If God is for me, who can be against me? Nothing can separate me from the love of God. We are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.
Next month I'll talk in more depth specifically about how to train for a renewed/transformed mind!
If you can't wait until next month to learn more about a renewed mind, see the link below for a devotional, called Keeping a Clear Mind from Charles Stanley’s monthly In Touch magazine.
Susanne is a Licensed Professional Christian Counselor. She has been serving the Christian community as a professional Christian counselor in Essex County and the surrounding area since 1986. Beyond her private practice in West Orange, she is involved in teaching, consulting, and pastoral supervision in various churches in the area. Susanne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.